My community used to be part of the Great Black Swamp. Early settlers avoided this area because it was uninhabitable. Many of us living in this community had ancestors that painstakingly cleared that swamp to make our community habitable.
Today, we are faced with a swamp of a different nature. As a psychologist and mental health counselor, I have frequently observed that what appear to be normal, nice people, when elected to public office, become power hungry and corrupt. As Lord Acton famously stated, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Knowing what I know about human nature, this should not surprise me. Yet it almost always still does.
As voters, we often do what we think to be our duty by casting our vote on election day. We then leave our elected officials to their own devices. This creates a local swamp, making our community uninhabitable again. That swamp begins to make decisions for itself and not for we the people. That swamp can only be made habitable again when the voting public holds their elected officials accountable.
It is time we started attending the meetings of our public officials. If we can’t attend meetings, we need to start reading the meeting minutes. We need to start asking our elected officials questions, sometimes tough questions. We need to demand transparency. We need to find out what goes on behind the scenes. What are their political and social connections, and why are those connections important? What causes are they involved in? We need to share what we discover with others.
Our ancestors cleared a physical swamp. We need to clear a political swamp. It’s up to us. It won’t get cleared up on its own. We have to become informed and invested in the process beyond just a day in May and a day in November. We need to hold our elected officials accountable for their decisions every day. It’s time to make our community habitable again. Tap into the strength of your ancestors. Clear the swamp.